I must admit I was initially confused by the introduction of HB245 to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places, as well as its easy sailing through the legislature. After all, tobacco is the most dangerous drug known to man, and this non-tobacco smokeless alternative has proven to be a relatively safe and effective tool to help people quit smoking. Why the urgent need to ban it?
A fellow Redditor recently illuminated this phenomenon for me, and it all makes sense now:
Smoking bans are not about facts or “the common good”. They are about political power, busybodying and social control.
Take for example the newly minted bans of e-cigs in many countries and many U.S. states. E-cigs are completely harmless (they use the same ingredients in asthma inhalers and faux club / movie “smoke”), do not leave any lingering odors, do not produce smoke, and effectively assist people in quitting smoking altogether (I haven’t smoked a cigarette in four months, and I was a pack-a-day smoker!).
Why would e-cigs be banned then? Whenever they gave a reason for banning them, every single stated reason is a fear-mongering FUD lie. But wait, sometimes they wouldn’t even give a reason — they just modified the definition of “smoking” to include vaping, as if altering some words somehow changed reality.
Which tells you the real reason they ban smoking or vaping. The real reason is quite simple: “I dislike what that man over there is doing, I want my preferences imposed on him by threats, and if he resists, I want him punished for that.”
People with the power to punish you for your personal decisions — and their authoritarian sycophants — can and will make bullshit excuses to punish you, because in the end, they control the guns. Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
The “war on smoking” (just like the war on drugs, and the war on alcohol, and all other “wars” that politicians and busybodies invent) is not a war on tobacco. It is a war on people.
The observable reality of this war, as with every single other war, is straightforward: “Do as I say, or give me money. You don’t want to give me money? No problem, we’ll drag you into a cage. You resist that? Fine, we’ll assault you. You resist that assault? We’ll execute you.” Every person who snitches / rats on you for doing something they dislike is your enemy, because he wants that evil to happen to you (and a coward too, because he wants others to perpetrate this evil on behalf of him).
I have noticed the same phenomenon among siblings of disciplinarian parents myself. Once a child sees the seemingly unstoppable force of a parent imposing his or her will upon them or their siblings, it becomes very easy and natural to call upon this power anytime a sibling does something the child finds disagreeable, offensive, or just annoying:
“Dad, make Billy stop whistling! Mom, make Suzie listen to me!”
When an element of pure force is an available tool, people tend to seek it by default to such a degree that they even forget peaceful methods exist. Those five dreaded words (“There should be a law!”) permeate our culture so pervasively that we cannot imagine life without them. We have lost the ability to deal peacefully and cooperatively.
The good news is that this ability can be relearned — or rather, retrained; hence the importance of educating people about voluntaryism. The more people able and willing to resolve non-violent conflicts with non-violent solutions, the more peaceful and prosperous society will be.
True to form, Utah legislators plan to manage the negative effects of State intervention with more State intervention.
Rep. Tim Cosgrove has put forth a bill mandating stricter licensing requirements for individuals in the alternative healing industry. Its purpose: to crack down on clandestine sex trade operations in massage parlors.
Of course, Cosgrove either completely ignores or is unaware of the fact that this fraudulent activity is a direct result of State prohibition of prostitution. “The oldest profession” is illegal because of the age-old conflation of legality and morality. Societies tend to forget that the beast of coercive government can enforce its edicts only by means of violence or the threat thereof, and that therefore the only behavior that should be illegal is behavior that any individual can rightfully respond to with defensive violence.
Within the lore of State mysticism, we are told that “[a]ll political power is inherent in the people; and all free governments are founded on their authority.” If this is true, it follows that the State can have no more authority than any one of its citizens. Prohibition of prostitution within this framework implies that, if average Utah resident Joe Shmoe were strolling through a neighborhood and witnessed a woman advertising sexual services, he would be within his rights to kidnap the woman and lock her in a cage, beating and even killing her if she resisted. Such a thing seems abhorrent to most people, yet those same people are fine with somehow delegating this right they don’t have to their government.
Prohibition of prostitution is the ultimate statement of State ownership of its citizens. By threatening violence against individuals who voluntarily perform sexual services for hire, government is claiming ownership of those individuals; for what is ownership but the right to possess and control? Indeed, this point is especially appropriate when one considers that State mandates against prostitution have resulted in the sex trade of unwilling women and minors to be what has been called “the largest slave trade in history.”
Without regulation, the prostitution industry has become a dangerous breeding ground for violence and disease transmittal. Because prostitutes cannot appeal to legal authorities for protection or redress of grievances, they are at the mercy of their pimps who are notorious for exploitative treatment of their laborers. Criminalization of prostitution could be the most misogynistic institution in world history.
The wise course to pursue in Utah would be not only to legalize prostitution, but to eliminate involuntary regulation and licensing requirements for both prostitution and massage parlors. Regulation and licensing are both products for which demand exists and can be provided and subscribed to voluntarily. Those who offer services without regulatory oversight or licensing ought not to be forcefully prohibited from doing so; they will most likely be forced by the market to discount their prices considerably, and those who purchase their services can do so knowing the risks. But no one should ever be forcefully prohibited from taking risks they are willing to take.
This course will result in a safe, responsible and economically efficient sex trade industry. This industry exists whether we like it or not. We cannot stamp it out of existence, because there will always be both a supply and a demand. So our question is, how do we manage it? By enacting measures that result in violence against non-violent women and children? Or by promoting those measures that will reduce harm to everyone involved, and hopefully create an open atmosphere in which we can peacefully persuade them to pursue more virtuous behavior?
Nicholas Hooton is an editor and strategist for Utah Liberty Alliance.
A little over a year ago, when the State was in an uproar over this new “spice” drug and calls were being made for prohibition, I predicted that production, usage and availability of the drug would actually increase under prohibition. This is a basic economic fact confirmed by historical evidence for those who care to learn it. I also predicted that the State would use this failure, not as a reason to end prohibition, but to ban even more stuff.
“Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said that since the drug was outlawed, smoke shops not only have begun to sell the product illegally, but the number of smoke shops in some communities has increased significantly.”
“The House passed legislation Wednesday cracking down on black market sales of spice … The measure prohibits anyone under the age of 19 from entering a smoke shop … [a]nd it makes it illegal to sell tobacco paraphernalia to anyone under the age of 19.”
Sometimes I hate being right.
We have yet to see reports of increases in violent crime and theft as results of spice prohibition. Who knows what negative effects these new bans will have.
Any talk of ending the ban will undoubtedly be met with rabid opposition from the State’s law enforcement cartel, who are likely basking in the revenue received from seizing the assets of the guilty smoke shops.
When will people learn that prohibition doesn’t work, and that State bans invariably suffer from perverse incentive?
Anarchist activist Thomas L. Knapp recently published an article entitled “If You Have to Ask Why, the Answer is Usually ‘Money’” in response to the public’s general lack of support for military action against Iran and confusion as to the reasons for it. As Knapp points out, given the facts at hand, proposing war with Iran is, well, insane.
I have found that “money” is pretty much the answer to why government ever does anything. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I know that “greed” has become a bad word over the past decade as it is blamed for every problem our society has faced; but greed is merely the pursuit of self-interest, and a universal human trait. Blaming our problems on greed is like blaming the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on gravity. Anyone who claims never to pursue self-interest is a liar, because such a person would have died from starvation long ago. Greed in and of itself has no power to do harm without force, and there is no larger, better organized institution of force than government.
It is for this reason that when an honest soul asks, Why are we waging a “War on Drugs” and destroying so many lives? What business is it of mine what another person puts in their own bodies? – the answer, of course, is money. As I have previously observed, the drug war puts the United States in the unique position of incarcerating a greater percentage of its citizenry than any other nation, and this prison population is put to work at an extremely low cost building weapons for the U.S. military.
This large prison population is very beneficial to other parties, as well, it turns out. Corrections Corporation of America is a $2 billion company whose business is to build or buy prisons and house prisoners at the State’s expense. They have an incentive, therefore, to imprison as many people as they possibly can. They have been active members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country, and they have spent millions over the years lobbying legislatures for stricter laws.
In an environment of shrinking state budgets across the nation, Corrections Corp. recently sent letters to 48 states offering to buy and manage their prisons, with the condition that they always be kept at least 90% full. At least one state has taken them up on this offer, and there is no reason for others not to follow suit. And there is only one way for them to guarantee that 90% figure: pass more and stricter laws, outlawing more victimless behavior, and enforcing those laws more strictly. This does not bode well for anyone outside the corporate and political elite.
There have been many movements recently to “get the corrupting money out of politics”. These efforts are admirable but misguided reactions to an increasingly authoritarian State. The proper course is to get the corrupting politics out of money. Money is not evil in and of itself – indeed, it represents the ingenuity and labor of voluntary exchange that has continuously increased humanity’s standard of living for centuries – but in the hands of the political means, the invasive and confiscatory and violent means of the State, it can be a powerful weapon for evil.
We need money; we don’t need politics.
The effectiveness of State legislation to solve problems caused by the State is debatable, but it is nice to see a government official headed in the right direction every now and then. Such is the case with David Butterfield, a lawmaker proposing to end random DUI checkpoints in Utah.
Despite the Fourth Amendment strictly prohibiting warrantless searches and seizures, the Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are permissible as long as certain requirements are met. Ever chiseling away at civil liberties with the sharp tools of misguided utilitarianism, the court justified such checkpoints on the grounds of their effectiveness.
But what Butterfield has found, and what anyone will find with a simple Google search, is that DUI checkpoints aren’t effective – at least, not at deterring drunk driving. What they are effective at is raising revenue for police departments and the State. It is not surprising, therefore, that Butterfield’s proposal was met with sharp criticism from the law enforcement bloc. State police forces rely on tickets and fines as revenue, and DUI checkpoints have proven to be veritable gold mines for raking in dough for minor offenses that police can’t pull you over for, as well as asset forfeiture.
While Butterfield’s proposal is a step in the right direction, it’s difficult indeed to see the State ever making it to the destination that direction leads to: legalizing drunk driving. As libertarian activist Lew Rockwell explained:
“This is a gross attack on liberty that implies that the government has and should have total control over us, extending even to the testing of intimate biological facts. But somehow we put up with it because we have conceded the first assumption that government ought to punish us for the content of our blood and not just our actions…
“Bank robbers may tend to wear masks, but the crime they commit has nothing to do with the mask. In the same way, drunk drivers cause accidents but so do sober drivers, and many drunk drivers cause no accidents at all. The law should focus on violations of person and property, not scientific oddities like blood content.”
I hope Butterfield fights the good fight and gets his proposal codified, despite the overwhelming intimidation tactics the law enforcement cartel is bound to unload on him. Radical ideas are often met with radical opposition. But then, isn’t that how we know we’re onto something?
Because banning stuff is always a good idea.
Ross Romero, a State Senate member from Salt Lake and a man who has taken it upon himself to dictate your life despite never having met you, submitted a bill to ban cell phone use for 16- and 17-year-olds while driving. The bill advanced easily, of course.
Let me tell you exactly what is going to happen if this passes: teens aren’t going to stop using their cell phones while they’re driving. No no, they will either get caught and join the ranks of the rest of the “delinquents” in a country that incarcerates more of its youth than any other nation; or they will simply attempt to conceal their usage, holding their handsets out of sight, taking their eyes farther from the road, thus making the behavior even riskier.
How do I know? Because there are stats, people! Utah seems to be adept at rushing into legislation before studying it. The Highway Loss Data Institute, an organization with a very dear financial incentive to reduce accidents, found that not only do bans on mobile device usage while driving fail to reduce the number of accidents, they may actually increase them!
This doesn’t matter, though, to the knee-jerk response team in the Utah legislature. If something is perceived as bad by the community, ban it, ban it! It is sad that more lives will have to be lost before people learn, again, that banning stuff isn’t always the best way to go. Another prediction, though: once the ban is found to be ineffective, some other ban will be proposed to improve it, and the spiral will continue to lead down…
Replace every use of the word “government” with the word “politicians”. For example: “I dont think we need the government to solve poverty” becomes “I don’t think we should rely on politicians to solve poverty”.
I think this is a great idea. People tend to have lofty ideas of government, but politicians are almost universally despised and distrusted. Folks tend to forget that the government is made up of politicians.
Utah Liberty Alliance seeks to bring about a free society through journalism and activism, starting right here at home.
Recent Forum Posts
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Utah juror information
posted in forum Incubator by Nicholas Hooton on April 30, 2012 at 8:56 am